Cingular Wireless instantly became the nations second-largest wireless carrier when it launched operations last fall.
BellSouth and SBC Communications forged Cingular from their domestic regional wireless operations. Cingulars territory encompasses some 191.8 million people — more than 20 million of them subscribers. Its business strategy stresses simplicity and individual expression. Consumer research made it clear that the average customer disliked complex rate plans and didnt care about technology.
"They expect clear calls. They expect it to happen; they dont care if its 3G [third-generation technology] or 4G [fourth-generation technology] or 2-1/2G [2-1/2-generation technology]," says Cingular CEO Stephen M. Carter. "What theyre interested in is: Does the darn thing work?"
So the company replaced the many plans offered by the 11 BellSouth and SBC entities rolled up into Cingular with a single set of local, regional and national rate plans with easy-to-compare price points.
With the exception of some rural patches, Cingulars system is digital. It uses both Code Division Multiple Access and global system for mobile communication networks in various parts of the country, and also operates a nationwide Mobitex network for packet-switched data and messaging.
Its data business is in its infancy, but Cingular is convinced wireless data has huge potential. In some West Coast markets, Cingular soon will commercially launch General Packet Radio Service, which offers up to 150-kilobits-per-second speeds and accessibility in cities or rural areas. GPRS ability to simultaneously handle data and voice, will make it an important product offering, Carter says.
Wireless customers are changing. "We see the under-25 age group coming on strong now," Carter says. The company also sees potential in the Spanish-speaking market.